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Best Way To Cure Bamboo?

bamboo curing wood

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8 replies to this topic

#1 WirsPlm

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 17:07

I've gotten some fresh bamboo pieces that look to be the right size for experimenting with pen-making, and was wondering about the best way to sure and work it. I've heard that you can cure it by standing upright for a while (very susceptible to the housemates-tossing-it-as-garbage problem), are there any quicker ways, like drying in the oven? Or are there any other forums, books or other resources that are helpful for starting to work with bamboo? Thanks, W P

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#2 dcwaites

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 22:07

Curing, like making good whiskey, should take a long time.

 

Air drying can take months, but has the advantage that the moisture content will be neutral with the air.

Kiln, or oven, drying can be done in days, but if you over-dry it, then moisture will move from the air, back into the wood/bamboo. The result will be warping.

 

Put your bamboo aside, with a prominent sign threatening the head or other sensitive body parts if it is moved.

 

Bamboo was used for a long time (and is still in some quarters) to make fishing poles. Look up split cane fishing rods.


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#3 duncsuss

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 23:26

I've successfully "kiln dried" rough-turned wooden bowls using a microwave. Zap it for a minute, take it out, wait a minute, record its weight. Zap it again, etc. When the weight stops changing, you've driven off *all* the moisture. Then you have to let it reach equilibrium with the air moisture content, which typically takes just a few days (far shorter than the length of time it would take to air-dry wood.)

 

I've never done this for pen blanks -- though I will be trying it in the next week or so -- and I've never tried it for bamboo.

 

Oh, probably best not use the kitchen microwave for this ... I have an old one that was about to be thrown out dedicated to this task.


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#4 dcwaites

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 05:16

When you heat bamboo in something like a microwave, the smell generated can be worse than roasting coffee in a popcorn popper.


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#5 Inspector

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 08:43

You can dry them in your cooking oven, the old fashioned one not the nuker ;) . Turn it on to the lowest or warm setting. When it is warm put the bamboo/wood in it. Turn on the oven light and turn off the oven. The heat from the light bulb will keep the oven nice and warm and your drying will be done in a few days. If you weigh a piece before the process and weigh it once or twice a day, you will be able to see when there is no more weight loss and you know it is as dry as you can get it. Too dry but it will pick up moisture from the air until it reaches equilibrium. With wood it helps to drill a hole all the way through the blank, cuts down on cracking. With the bamboo, doing the same to the nodules would also help. I've done it with Oak from a wine barrel and from Caragana picked off the ground , maybe some others I can't remember at the moment. :rolleyes:  If you want to be more gentle, warm it for half a day and then let it rest a day with the light and oven off, alternating between until you are happy. Take the project out if you are going to bake bread or broil a steak.  :P 

 

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#6 WirsPlm

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 19:30

You can dry them in your cooking oven, the old fashioned one not the nuker ;) . Turn it on to the lowest or warm setting. When it is warm put the bamboo/wood in it. Turn on the oven light and turn off the oven. The heat from the light bulb will keep the oven nice and warm and your drying will be done in a few days. If you weigh a piece before the process and weigh it once or twice a day, you will be able to see when there is no more weight loss and you know it is as dry as you can get it. Too dry but it will pick up moisture from the air until it reaches equilibrium. With wood it helps to drill a hole all the way through the blank, cuts down on cracking. With the bamboo, doing the same to the nodules would also help. I've done it with Oak from a wine barrel and from Caragana picked off the ground , maybe some others I can't remember at the moment. :rolleyes:  If you want to be more gentle, warm it for half a day and then let it rest a day with the light and oven off, alternating between until you are happy. Take the project out if you are going to bake bread or broil a steak.  :P

 

Pete

 

Great, that's the clear guidelines I was looking for! Is there any kind of limit on how far apart the bamboo pieces need to be or how many I can dry at one time (we've got a mini-forest trying to spring up, which is part of the impetus for me tinkering with bamboo, so supply is really not a problem)?


Edited by WirsPlm, 28 November 2013 - 19:34.


#7 Inkling13

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 00:46

Bamboo is interesting, The mechanical properties improve with age, as in, the culm needs to grow for several years before becoming as hard and strong as it will be. If you cut a fresh culm that had just sprung, the whole thing will shrivel like a raisin. An older culm will resist this shrinkage better. A dead culm has already been past its prime in terms of harvesting, but it should suffice for pen making.  When, this depends on the species, and local growing conditions. Being that bamboo is rather thin, you would be best to let it air dry and acclimate to your local humidity levels, rather than baking it in the oven, for the best structural stability. 



#8 farmerjohn

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 01:42

Curing, like making good whiskey, should take a long time.

 

Air drying can take months, but has the advantage that the moisture content will be neutral with the air.

Kiln, or oven, drying can be done in days, but if you over-dry it, then moisture will move from the air, back into the wood/bamboo. The result will be warping.

 

Put your bamboo aside, with a prominent sign threatening the head or other sensitive body parts if it is moved.

 

Bamboo was used for a long time (and is still in some quarters) to make fishing poles. Look up split cane fishing rods.

split cane rods are not the same they split them into little pizza wedges and glue em together into a single piece

and regardless if they warp or not they wont be straight to start with what he should look at is how you straighten the cane like you would for a arrow with some heat and some hot pads and your knee

 

that said best way to cure them get a nice bundle and leave them in your attic for a season they will be ready to work at the end 



#9 Inkling13

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 21:51

 

Great, that's the clear guidelines I was looking for! Is there any kind of limit on how far apart the bamboo pieces need to be or how many I can dry at one time (we've got a mini-forest trying to spring up, which is part of the impetus for me tinkering with bamboo, so supply is really not a problem)?

You will need to pick culms that are several seasons old. Dead culms have already declined in strength, and fresh newly sprouted culms are still mostly water and have not deposited the woody growth needed for structural integrity when dried. There is not much of a limit as to how far or how much you can dry at a time, but finding the culms a few years old is the most important part. Once harvested, preferably in the fall after growth has ceased, the cums should be cut, and bundled to prevent warping and stored somewhere airy and safe from bugs. There is a threat you might be bothered by beetles boring into dried culms, but that should be minimal if kept dry. 


Edited by Inkling13, 27 January 2014 - 21:52.






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